Column: Is medical malpractice on the state legislature’s table?

By Don McNay


In 2004, insurance companies pushed to cap medical malpractice awards. Kentucky was one of the few states to resist.

Injured people framed public opinion, lobbied and had massive rallies. Kentucky withstood a national tidal wave.

In order to cap jury awards, Kentucky would have to amend its constitution.

An amendment passed the Kentucky Senate in 2004. It died in the House of Representatives.

Dr. Ernie Fletcher was elected on a tort reform platform. The defeat started a string for the now-former governor.

No one seems worried about malpractice caps in 2008.

But I hear the whispers.

People close to the legislative process whisper the possibility of malpractice reform.

Reform tied to casino gambling was mentioned on “Comment on Kentucky.�

Panelists dismissed the idea. Many representatives for injured people do, too. Some get angry. They believe that staying quiet will make malpractice threats go away.

Some lawmakers fret about the “silence is golden� strategy. They hear the same whispers I am hearing.

A “perfect storm� could be brewing.

In recent years, insurance companies made huge profits. They won’t this year. Insurers lost billions investing in sub-prime mortgages. Their stocks have tanked.

When insurance companies lose on investments, they recover by limiting claims.

The fastest way to limit claims is yell “insurance crisis� and demand a government bailout. The strategy has worked since Vice President Dan Quayle led the national crusade in 1991.
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